John Hammond Rumors
And now Vogel finds himself in a predicament coaches dread: on the hot seat, unsure if his team’s front office will retain him for next season. Vogel is in a precarious spot. Between Vogel’s first and second seasons, the Magic fired Rob Hennigan as the team’s general manager, dismissed many other key figures within the basketball operations department and hired Jeff Weltman as the president of basketball operations and John Hammond as the general manager.
As they have remained quiet, gossip has swirled for months within NBA circles about Vogel’s future. The speculation accelerated after the Magic followed a superb 8-4 start with an injury-fueled nine-game losing streak. The conjecture has always centered around an assumption that Weltman will want to pick his own coach rather than retain the coach he inherited. Then, with a new coach in place, Weltman ostensibly would undertake an incremental rebuild and reboot the failed effort that began under Hennigan.
Many executives and scouts throughout the NBA think the Magic’s roster has been flawed throughout Vogel’s tenure. In the months leading into Vogel’s first season, the Magic made two major failed moves. First, the team traded Victor Oladipo and the draft rights to Domantas Sabonis for Serge Ibaka. Then it signed center Bismack Biyombo to a four-year deal worth $17 million per season.
In an interview, Hammond would not categorize the Magic as sellers. But he also acknowledged that if the team does make a move, it would not be for a quick fix and would likely be “to improve ourselves for the future.” So if the Magic trade anyone, the Magic likely would be interested in acquiring young players or draft picks or a combination of both.
Orlando Magic General Manager John Hammond has lived in Florida for less than a year. But he’s seen enough of the weather here, and spent enough years in professional basketball, to make an accurate comparison between the buildup of a tropical storm and the buildup to the annual NBA trade deadline. “Today, it’s basically it’s nothing more than a beautiful day in Florida,” Hammond said, referring to this year’s trade deadline, which will expire on Feb. 8 at 3 p.m. “But there sometimes is a calm before the storm, and history shows the storms start coming in your direction maybe three days before or four days before, and the storms really start hitting 48 to 24 hours before. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to be in the middle of a storm, but we could.”
With the playoffs all but impossible, the widely held assumption throughout the NBA is that Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman and John Hammond will try to trade some of the established players on the roster they inherited — perhaps 25-year-old swingman Evan Fournier and 27-year-old center Nikola Vucevic — to aid in a rebuild. In an interview, Hammond would not categorize the Magic as sellers. But he also acknowledged that if the team does make a move, it would not be for a quick fix and would likely be “to improve ourselves for the future.” So if the Magic trade anyone, the Magic likely would be interested in acquiring young players or draft picks or a combination of both.
Officially, Becky Bonner is the Magic’s director of player development and quality control—tasked with everything from player appearances and facilities upgrades to scouting and player evaluation. Unofficially, she’s training to become a general manager—perhaps the first female GM in league history. On this night, Bonner is shepherding Magic players through Walmart. Tomorrow, she’ll be filing reports on a batch of draft prospects, then watching the Magic-Clippers game from the executive suite, alongside Magic president Jeff Weltman and GM John Hammond. In the weeks and months ahead, she’ll be in the Magic’s war room, offering input on free-agent targets or potential deals in advance of the Feb. 8 trade deadline. She will be the lone female voice in that room—and one of the few in the NBA, period. “I just think she’s got unlimited potential,” says Weltman, who recruited Bonner from the league office in June, with the promise of full involvement in basketball operations and the belief she could one day run a team of her own. “It will evolve the way it evolves,” he says.